The Maine Center for Disease Control reported Saturday that there are now 211 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
This is an increase of 43 cases from Friday's report. State CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah called the increase “concerning.”
“It is however consistent with the anticipated increase in cases as the spread of COVID-19 continues, both in terms of numbers as well as in geography,” he said.
But, Shah said, the laboratory testing for COVID-19 has been able to reduce the number of backlogged tests after receiving additional supplies of critical reagants chemicals. “We have been able to reduce this testing backlog from about 1300 cases to 826 yesterday.”
Shah also said that at least three dozen Maine health care workers have now tested positive for COVID-19. He said it is unknown whether those workers were infected on the job site or through community transmission. However, Shah says that data from other countries shows that the rate of infection amongst health care workers is far higher than the general population.
“The risk to health care workers is high, and it's real. And we really do commend them for that. That's also a reason why, in Maine and other states, health care workers are an areas of focus for us. It's why we're focused on, for example, getting tests for health care workers back. So that if they're positive, they can stay home and not infect other people. And if they're negative, they can get back into the health care workforce as quickly as possible.”
Shah has previously voiced concerns over the lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers. There have been over 100,000 U.S. cases of COVID-19 reported as of Friday, more than any other country in the world. Both nationally and statewide, officials say more tests and personal protective equipment are needed.
At Friday's press briefing, Gov. Janet Mills emphasized the importance of social distancing. "Please please stay away from other people. Stay home. Leave home when only absolutely necessary," she said.
Friday the Maine CDC confirmed the state’s first death of someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Updated 3:19 p.m. March 28, 2020